U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Bolivia, March 1998
Released by the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs.
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Bolivia
Area: 1.1 million sq. km. (425,000 sq. mi.); about the size of Texas and
Cities: Capital--La Paz (administrative--pop. 713,400); Sucre
(constitutional--131,800). Other major cities--Santa Cruz (697,000),
Cochabamba (407,800), El Alto (405,500).
Terrain: High plateau (altiplano), temperate and semitropical valleys,
and the tropical lowlands.
Climate: Varies with altitude--from humid and tropical to semi-arid and
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Bolivian(s).
Population (1995 est.): 7.4 million.
Annual growth rate: 2.4%.
Ethnic groups: 56% indigenous (primarily Aymara, Quechua, and Guarani),
42% European and mixed.
Religions: Predominantly Roman Catholic.
Languages: Spanish (official); Quechua, Aymara, Guarani.
Education: Years compulsory--ages 7-14. Literacy--80%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--67/1,000.
Work force (3.6 million): Non-agricultural employment: 1.26 million.
Services (including government)--70%. Industry and commerce--30%.
Independence: August 6, 1825.
Constitution: 1967; revised 1994.
Branches: Executive--president and cabinet. Legislative--bicameral
Congress. Judicial--five levels of jurisdiction, headed by Supreme
Subdivisions: Nine departments.
Major political parties: Nationalist Democratic Action (ADN), Movement
of the Revolutionary Left (MIR), Nationalist Revolutionary Movement
(MNR), Conscience of the Fatherland (CONDEPA), Free Bolivia Movement
(MBL), Civic Solidarity Union (UCS).
Suffrage: Universal adult, obligatory.
GDP: $8.0 billion.
Annual growth rate: 4.1%.
Per capita income: $1,100.
Natural resources: Hydrocarbons (natural gas, petroleum); mining (zinc,
tungsten, antimony, silver, lead, gold, and iron).
Agriculture (14.9% of GDP): Major products--Soybeans, cotton, potatoes,
corn, sugarcane, rice, wheat, coffee, beef, barley, and quinine. Arable
Industry: Mineral and hydrocarbon extraction, manufacturing, commerce,
textiles, food processing, chemicals, plastics, mineral smelting, and
Trade: Exports (1997)--$1.19 billion. Major export products--natural
gas, tin, zinc, coffee, silver, tungsten, wood, gold, jewelry, soybeans,
and byproducts. Major export markets--U.S. (18.7%), U.K. (11.8%),
Argentina (11.4%), Peru (11.1%), Colombia (9.5%). Imports (1997)--$1.74
billion. Major products--machinery and transportation equipment,
consumer products, construction and mining equipment. Major suppliers--
U.S. (17.0%), Japan (12.4%), Brazil (10.8%), Argentina (8.8%), Chile
(6.9%), Peru (5.3%).
Exchange Rate: 5.38 Bolivianos=U.S.$1 (as of 2/98).
Relations between the United States and Bolivia are cordial and
cooperative. The major issue in the bilateral relationship is control of
illegal narcotics. Roughly one-third of the world's cocaine is made from
coca grown in Bolivia: Bolivia's coca crop is second only to Peru's in
the production of the cocaine alkaloid, and the country is second only
to Colombia in the production of refined cocaine hydrochloride. For
centuries, Bolivian coca leaf has been chewed and used in traditional
rituals, but in the past few decades the emergence of the drug trade has
led to a rapid expansion of coca cultivation, particularly in the
tropical Chapare region. In 1988, a new law explicitly recognized that
coca grown in the Chapare was not required to meet traditional demand
for chewing or for tea, and the law called for the eradication, over
time, of all "excess" coca. To accomplish that goal, the Bolivian
Government instituted a program offering cash compensation to peasants
who eradicated voluntarily and the government began developing and
promoting suitable alternative crops for the peasants to grow. The
Bolivian Government is now phasing out direct payments in favor of
community-based incentives to eradicate coca cultivation. Parallel
efforts were undertaken by the police to interdict the smuggling of coca
leaves, cocaine, and precursor chemicals. The U.S. Government has, in
large measure, financed the alternative development program and the
Bolivian President Hugo Banzer has pledged to wipe out illicit coca
production and drug trafficking in Bolivia by the end of his term in
2002. His administration unveiled its five-year counternarcotics
strategy in December 1997. The plan calls for significant funding from
President Clinton certified to the Congress in 1998 that Bolivia is
cooperating fully with the U.S. on counternarcotics matters or has taken
steps on its own to achieve full compliance with the 1988 UN Convention
Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
The U.S. Government is seeking Bolivia's cooperation in achieving a net
reduction in the amount of coca under cultivation and in enacting
legislation to criminalize money laundering. In 1996, the United States
and Bolivia ratified a new extradition treaty which makes it easier for
both nations to more effectively prosecute drug traffickers and other
criminals. It replaces the previous extradition treaty, which came into
force in 1990. The new treaty is significant because, unlike its
predecessor, it requires both countries to extradite their own nationals
for serious criminal offenses.
In 1991, the U.S. Government forgave all of the debt owed by Bolivia to
the U.S. Agency for International Development ($341 million) as well as
80% (or $31 million) of the amount owed to the Department of Agriculture
for food assistance. Increased U.S. assistance since the late 1980s has
been designed to reinforce democracy, to ensure sustainable economic
development, and to make Bolivia less dependent on the cocaine industry.
U.S. economic and development assistance totaled $64.5 million in FY
1996, in addition to military and counternarcotics assistance.
U.S. EMBASSY FUNCTIONS
In addition to working closely with Bolivian Government officials to
strengthen our bilateral relationship, the U.S. Embassy provides a wide
range of services to U.S. citizens and business. Political and economic
officers deal directly with the Bolivian Government in advancing U.S.
interests, but are also available to provide information to American
citizens on general conditions in the country. Commercial officers work
closely with dozens of U.S. companies which operate direct subsidiaries
in the country. These officers provide information on Bolivian trade and
industry regulations and administer several programs intended to aid
U.S. companies starting or maintaining business ventures in Bolivia.
The consular section of the embassy provides vital services to the
estimated 5,000 American citizens resident in Bolivia. Among other
services, the consular section assists Americans who wish to participate
in U.S. elections while abroad and provides U.S. tax information.
Besides the American citizens living in Bolivia, some 25,000 U.S.
citizens visit annually. The consular section offers passport and
emergency services to these tourists as needed during their stay in
Principal U.S. Embassy Officials
Ambassador--Donna J. Hrinak
Deputy Chief of Mission--Robert C. Perry
Political/Economic Counselor--Scott Danaher
Consul General--Jeanne Schulz
Director, Narcotics Affairs--Richard Baca
Director, USAID Mission--Frank Almaguer
Public Affairs Officer, USIS--Donald Terpstra
Defense Attache--Col. Gregory Landers, USAF
Commander, U.S. Military Group--Col. Dennis Keller, USA
The U.S. Embassy is located at Avenida Arce #2780, La Paz (tel. 591-2-
430251). There are consular agents in the cities of Santa Cruz (tel.
591-3-330725) and Cochabamba (tel. 591-42-56714). Embassy Home Page:
OTHER CONTACT INFORMATION:
U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Trade Information Center
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20230
Home Page: http://www.ita.doc.gov
American Chamber of Commerce in Bolivia
Edificio Hilda, Oficina 3
Avenida 6 de Agosto
Apartado Postal 8268
La Paz, Volivia
Tel: (591) 2-43-25-73
Fax: (591) 2-43-24-72
Home Page: http://www.bolivianet.com/amcham
Bolivia's 1997 gross domestic product (GDP) totaled $8.0 billion.
Economic growth has remained steady at about 4% a year (1.5% a year in
per capita terms) over the 1988-97 period and real GDP grew by 4.1% in
1997. Inflation declined from 8% in 1996 to 6.7% in 1997. The
government's 1998 economic program has targeted GDP growth of 5% and an
inflation rate below 6%.
Since 1985, the Government of Bolivia has been implementing a far-
reaching program of macroeconomic stabilization and structural reform
aimed at restoring price stability, creating conditions for sustained
growth, and alleviating poverty. Important components of these
structural reform measures include the capitalization of state
enterprises and strengthening of the country's financial system.
The most important recent structural changes in the Bolivian economy
have involved the capitalization of numerous public sector enterprises.
(Capitalization in the Bolivian context is a form of privatization where
investors acquire a 50% stake and management control of public
enterprises in return for a commitment to undertake capital expenditures
equivalent to the enterprise's net worth). Parallel legislative reforms
have locked into place market-oriented policies, especially in the
hydrocarbon and mining sectors, that have encouraged private investment.
Foreign investors are accorded national treatment, and foreign ownership
of companies enjoys virtually no restrictions in Bolivia. As a
consequence of these measures, 1996 private investment surged by 25% to
an estimated $225 million and the privatization program has generated
commitments of $1.7 billion in foreign direct investment over the period
In 1996, three units of the Bolivian state oil corporation (YPFB)
involved in hydrocarbon exploration, production, and transportation were
capitalized. The capitalization of YPFB allowed agreement to be reached
on the construction of a gas pipeline to Brazil. A priority in the
development strategy for the sector is the expansion of export markets
for natural gas. The government intends to maintain its current contract
for gas exports to Argentina through 1999. The contract to construct a
pipeline to Brazil projects natural gas exports of 8 million cubic
meters per day (cmd) by 1999, increasing to 16 million cmd by the eighth
year of operation. The Bolivian Government has signed a financing
contract for the Bolivian side of the gas pipeline with Petrobras and
the capitalization of YPFB's transportation company will facilitate the
finance, construction, and operation of the pipeline. The government
plans to position Bolivia as a regional hub for exporting hydrocarbons.
Six smaller public enterprises were sold during 1996, and the Government
of Bolivia has taken steps to improve the efficiency of some public
services through concession contracts with private sector managers. All
three major airports were transferred to private managers in March 1997,
and a water supply company was transferred to a private operator in June
1997. Also, by the end of 1996, almost all customs posts were under
By May 1996, three of the four Bolivian banks that had experienced
difficulties in 1995 were recapitalized and restructured under new
ownership with support from the Bolivian Government's Special Fund for
Strengthening the Financial System (FONDESIF), which helped restore
confidence in the banking system. In November 1996, the Bolivian
Congress approved a comprehensive pension reform that replaces the old
pay-as-you-go system by a system of privately managed, individually
funded retirement accounts, and the new system began operations in May
1997. The reform represents a major step toward lasting fiscal
consolidation in Bolivia.
Bolivian exports were $1.19 billion in 1997, from a low of $652 million
in 1991. Imports grew in 1997 to a level of $1.74 billion, with import
growth facilitated by the gradual reduction of Bolivian tariffs to a
flat 10% (except for capital equipment, which has a 5% rate). Bolivia's
trade deficit rose from $419 million in 1996 to $620 million in 1997.
Bolivia's trade with neighboring countries is growing, in part because
of several regional preferential trade agreements it has negotiated.
Bolivia is a member of the Andean Community and has free trade with
other member countries (Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela). Bolivia
began to implement an association agreement with MERCOSUR (Southern Cone
Common Market) in March 1997. The agreement provides for the gradual
creation of a free-trade area covering at least 80% of the trade between
the parties over a 10-year period. The U.S. Andean Trade Preference Act
(ATPA) allows numerous Bolivian products to enter the United States free
of duty on a unilateral basis. Tariffs have to be paid on clothing and
leather products only.
The U.S. remains Bolivia's largest trading partner. In 1997, the U.S.
exported $295 million of merchandise to Bolivia and imported $223
million, according to the World Trade Atlas of the Global Trade
Information Service. Bolivia's major exports to the U.S. are tin, gold,
jewelry, and wood products. Its major imports from the United States are
computers, vehicles, wheat, and machinery. A Bilateral Investment Treaty
is under negotiation.
Agriculture accounts for roughly 15% of Bolivia's GDP. The amount of
land cultivated by modern farming techniques is increasing rapidly in
the Santa Cruz area, where weather allows for two crops a year and
soybeans are the major cash crop. The extraction of minerals and
hydrocarbons accounts for another 10% of GDP. Bolivia is self-sufficient
in oil and exports natural gas to Argentina. Manufacturing represents
less than 17% of GDP.
The Government of Bolivia remains heavily dependent on foreign
assistance to finance development projects. At the end of 1997, the
government owed $4.23 billion to its foreign creditors, with $1.6
billion of this amount owed to other governments and most of the balance
owed to multilateral development banks. Most payments to other
governments have been rescheduled on several occasions since 1987
through the Paris Club mechanism. External creditors have been willing
to do this because the Bolivian Government has generally achieved the
monetary and fiscal targets set by IMF programs since 1987. The current
IMF program, which consists of soft balance-of-payments loans from the
enhanced structural adjustment facility as the government achieves
certain targets, is a multi-year agreement ending in 1998.
Rescheduling agreements granted by the Paris Club have allowed the
individual creditor countries to apply very soft terms to the
rescheduled debt. As a result, some countries have forgiven substantial
amounts of Bolivia's bilateral debt. The U.S. Government reached an
agreement at the Paris Club meeting in December 1995 which reduced by
67% Bolivia's existing debt stock. The Bolivian Government continues to
pay its debts to the multilateral development banks on time and to
receive soft loans. Bolivia has qualified for the Highly Indebted Poor
Countries (HIPC) debt relief program.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The Banzer Government has committed itself to shutting down illegal coca
cultivation and narcotrafficking during its five-year term. President
Banzer has called for action against government and judicial corruption
and has encouraged foreign investment as a means to stimulate economic
growth and reduce poverty.
The 1967 constitution, revised in 1994, provides for balanced executive,
legislative, and judicial powers. The traditionally strong executive,
however, tends to overshadow the Congress, whose role is generally
limited to debating and approving legislation initiated by the
executive. The judiciary, consisting of the Supreme Court and
departmental and lower courts, has long been riddled with corruption and
inefficiency. Through revisions to the constitution in 1994, and
subsequent laws, the government has initiated potentially far-reaching
reforms in the judicial system and processes.
Bolivia's nine departments received greater autonomy under the
Administrative Decentralization law of 1995, although principal
departmental officials are still appointed by the central government.
Bolivian cities and towns are governed by elected mayors and councils.
The most recent municipal elections took place in December 1995. The
Popular Participation Law of April 1994, which distributes a significant
portion of national revenues to municipalities for discretionary use,
has enabled previously neglected communities to make striking
improvements in their facilities and services.
Principal Government Officials
President--Hugo BANZER Suarez
Vice President--Jorge QUIROGA Ramirez
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Javier MURILLO de la Rocha
Ambassador to the U.S.--Marcelo PEREZ Monasterios
Ambassador to the UN-vacant
Ambassador to the OAS--Marlene FERNANDEZ Granado
Bolivia maintains an embassy in the U.S. at 3014 Massachusetts Ave., NW,
Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-483-4410); consulates in Los Angeles, San
Francisco, Miami, New Orleans, and New York; and honorary consulates in
Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Mobile, Seattle, St. Louis, and
Bolivia traditionally has maintained normal diplomatic relations with
all hemispheric states except Chile. Relations with Chile, strained
since Bolivia's defeat in the War of the Pacific (1879-83) and its loss
of the coastal province of Atacama, were severed from 1962 to 1975 in a
dispute over the use of the waters of the Lauca River. Relations were
resumed in 1975 but broken again in 1978 over the inability of the two
countries to reach an agreement that might have granted Bolivia a
sovereign access to the sea. In the 1960s, relations with Cuba were
broken following Castro's rise to power, but resumed under the Paz
Estenssoro Administration in 1985.
Bolivia pursues a foreign policy with a heavy economic component.
Bolivia has become more active in the OAS, the Rio Group, and in
MERCOSUR, with which it signed an association agreement in 1996. Bolivia
promotes its policies on sustainable development and the empowerment of
Bolivia is a member of the UN and some specialized agencies and related
programs; Organization of American States (OAS); Andean Pact; INTELSAT;
Non-Aligned Movement; International Parliamentary Union; Latin American
Integration Association (ALADI); World Trade Organization; Rio Treaty;
Rio Group; MERCOSUR; and Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia (URUPABOL, re-
started in 1993). As an outgrowth of the 1994 Summit of the Americas,
Bolivia hosted a hemispheric summit conference on sustainable
development in December 1996. A First Ladies' hemispheric summit was
also hosted by Bolivia that same month.
Bolivia's ethnic distribution is estimated to be 56% indigenous people,
and 42% European and mixed. The largest of the approximately three dozen
indigenous groups are the Aymara, Quechua, and Guarani. There are small
German, former Yugoslav, Asian, Middle Eastern, and other minorities,
many of whose members descend from families that have lived in Bolivia
for several generations.
Bolivia is one of the least-developed countries in South America. About
two-thirds of its people, many of whom are subsistence farmers, live in
poverty. Population density ranges from less than one person per square
kilometer (km) in the southeastern plains to about 10 per square km. (25
per sq. mi.) in the central highlands. Bolivia's high mortality rate
restricts the annual population growth rate to around 2%.
La Paz is at the highest elevation of the world's capital cities--3,600
meters (11,800 ft.) above sea level. The adjacent city of El Alto, at
4,200 meters above sea level, is one of the fastest-growing in the
hemisphere. Santa Cruz, the commercial and industrial hub of the eastern
lowlands, also is experiencing rapid population and economic growth.
The great majority of Bolivians are Roman Catholic (the official
religion), although Protestant denominations are expanding strongly.
Many indigenous communities interweave pre-Columbian and Christian
symbols in their religious practices. About half of the people speak
Spanish as their first language. Approximately 90% of the children
attend primary school, but often for a year or less. The literacy rate
is low in many rural areas.
The cultural development of what is present-day Bolivia is divided into
three distinct periods: pre-Columbian, colonial, and republican.
Important archaeological ruins, gold and silver ornaments, stone
monuments, ceramics, and weavings remain from several important pre-
Columbian cultures. Major ruins include Tiwanaku, Samaipata, Incallajta,
and Iskanwaya. The country abounds in other sites that are difficult to
reach and hardly explored by archaeologists.
The Spanish brought their own tradition of religious art which, in the
hands of local indigenous and mestizo builders and artisans, developed
into a rich and distinctive style of architecture, painting, and
sculpture known as "Mestizo Baroque." The colonial period produced not
only the paintings of Perez de Holguin, Flores, Bitti, and others but
also the works of skilled, but unknown, stonecutters, wood carvers,
goldsmiths, and silversmiths. An important body of native baroque
religious music of the colonial period was recovered in recent years and
has been performed internationally to wide acclaim since 1994.
Bolivian artists of stature in the 20th century include, among others,
Guzman de Rojas, Arturo Borda, Maria Luisa Pacheco, and Marina Nunez del
Bolivia has rich folklore. Its regional folk music is distinctive and
varied. The devil dances at the annual carnival of Oruro are one of the
great folkloric events of South America, as is the lesser known carnival
The Andean region probably has been inhabited for some 20,000 years.
Beginning about the 2nd century B.C., the Tiwanakan culture developed at
the southern end of Lake Titicaca. This culture, centered around and
named for the great city of Tiwanaku, developed advanced architectural
and agricultural techniques before it disappeared around 1200 A.D.,
probably because of extended drought. Roughly contemporaneous with the
Tiwanakan culture, the Moxos in the eastern lowlands and the Mollos
north of present-day La Paz also developed advanced agricultural
societies that had dissipated by the 13th century of our era. In about
1450, the Quechua-speaking Incas entered the area of modern highland
Bolivia and added it to their empire. They controlled the area until the
Spanish conquest in 1525.
During most of the Spanish colonial period, this territory was called
"Upper Peru" or "Charcas" and was under the authority of the Viceroy of
Lima. Local government came from the Audiencia de Charcas located in
Chuquisaca (La Plata--modern Sucre). Bolivian silver mines produced much
of the Spanish empire's wealth, and Potosi, site of the famed Cerro
Rico--"Rich Mountain"-was, for many years, the largest city in the
Western Hemisphere. As Spanish royal authority weakened during the
Napoleonic wars, sentiment against colonial rule grew. Independence was
proclaimed in 1809, but 16 years of struggle followed before the
establishment of the republic, named for Simon Bolivar, on August 6,
Independence did not bring stability. For nearly 60 years, coups and
short-lived constitutions dominated Bolivian politics. Bolivia's
weakness was demonstrated during the War of the Pacific (1879-83), when
it lost its seacoast and the adjoining rich nitrate fields to Chile.
An increase in the world price of silver brought Bolivia a measure of
relative prosperity and political stability in the late 1800s. During
the early part of the 20th century, tin replaced silver as the country's
most important source of wealth. A succession of governments controlled
by the economic and social elites followed laissez-faire capitalist
policies through the first third of the century.
Living conditions of the indigenous peoples, who constituted most of the
population, remained deplorable. Forced to work under primitive
conditions in the mines and in nearly feudal status on large estates,
they were denied access to education, economic opportunity, or political
Bolivia's defeat by Paraguay in the Chaco War (1932-35) marked a turning
point. Great loss of life and territory discredited the traditional
ruling classes, while service in the army produced stirrings of
political awareness among the indigenous people. From the end of the
Chaco War until the 1952 revolution, the emergence of contending
ideologies and the demands of new groups convulsed Bolivian politics.
The Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR) emerged as a broadly based
party. Denied its victory in the 1951 presidential elections, the MNR
lead the successful 1952 revolution. Under President Victor Paz
Estenssoro, the MNR introduced universal adult suffrage, carried out a
sweeping land reform, promoted rural education, and nationalized the
country's largest tin mines. It also committed many serious violations
of human rights.
Twelve years of tumultuous rule left the MNR divided. In 1964, a
military junta overthrew President Paz Estenssoro at the outset of his
third term. The 1969 death of President Rene Barrientos, a former member
of the junta elected President in 1966, led to a succession of weak
governments. Alarmed by public disorder, the military, the MNR, and
others installed Col. (later Gen.) Hugo Banzer Suarez as President in
1971. Banzer ruled with MNR support from 1971 to 1974. Then, impatient
with schisms in the coalition, he replaced civilians with members of the
armed forces and suspended political activities. The economy grew
impressively during Banzer's presidency, but demands for greater
political freedom undercut his support. His call for elections in 1978
plunged Bolivia into turmoil once again.
Elections in 1978, 1979, and 1980 were inconclusive and marked by fraud.
There were coups, counter-coups, and caretaker governments. In 1980,
Gen. Luis Garcia Meza carried out a ruthless and violent coup. His
government was notorious for human rights abuses, narcotics trafficking,
and economic mismanagement. Later convicted in absentia for crimes
including murder, Garcia Meza was extradited from Brazil and began
serving a 30-year sentence in 1995.
After a military rebellion forced out Garcia Meza in 1981, three other
military governments in 14 months struggled with Bolivia's growing
problems. Unrest forced the military to convoke the Congress elected in
1980 and allow it to choose a new chief executive. In October 1982--22
years after the end of his first term of office (1956-60)--Hernan Siles
Zuazo again became President. Severe social tension, exacerbated by
economic mismanagement and weak leadership, forced him to call early
elections and relinquish power a year before the end of his
In the 1985 elections, the Nationalist Democratic Action Party (ADN) of
Gen. Banzer won a plurality of the popular vote, followed by former
President Paz Estenssoro's MNR and former Vice President Jaime Paz
Zamora's Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR). But in the
congressional run-off, the MIR sided with MNR, and Paz Estenssoro was
chosen for a fourth term as president. When he took office in 1985, he
faced a staggering economic crisis. Economic output and exports had been
declining for several years. Hyperinflation had reached an annual rate
of 24,000%. Social unrest, chronic strikes, and unchecked drug
trafficking were widespread.
In four years, Paz Estenssoro's Administration achieved economic and
social stability. The military stayed out of politics, and all major
political parties publicly and institutionally committed themselves to
democracy. Human rights violations, which badly tainted some governments
earlier in the decade, were not a problem. However, his remarkable
accomplishments were not won without sacrifice. The collapse of tin
prices in October 1985, coming just as the government was moving to
reassert its control of the mismanaged state mining enterprise, forced
the government to lay off over 20,000 miners. The highly successful
shock treatment that restored Bolivia's financial system also led to
some unrest and temporary social dislocation.
Although the MNR list headed by Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada finished first
in the 1989 elections, no candidate received a majority of popular votes
and so in accordance with the constitution, a congressional vote
determined who would be president. The Patriotic Accord (AP) coalition
between Gen. Banzer's ADN and Jaime Paz Zamora's MIR, the second- and
third-place finishers, respectively, won out. Paz Zamora assumed the
presidency and the MIR took half the ministries. Banzer's center-right
ADN took control of the National Political Council (CONAP) and the other
Paz Zamora was a moderate, center-left president whose political
pragmatism in office outweighed his Marxist origins. Having seen the
destructive hyperinflation of the Siles Zuazo Administration, he
continued the neo-liberal economic reforms begun by Paz Estenssoro,
codifying some of them. Paz Zamora took a fairly hard line against
domestic terrorism, personally ordering the December 1990 attack on
terrorists of the Nestor Paz Zamora Committee (CNPZ--named after his
brother who died in the 1970 Teoponte insurgency) and authorizing the
early 1992 crackdown against the Tupac Katari Guerrilla Army (EGTK).
Paz Zamora's regime was less decisive against narcotics trafficking. The
government broke up a number of trafficking networks but issued a 1991
surrender decree giving lenient sentences to the biggest narcotics
kingpins. Also, his administration was extremely reluctant to pursue net
eradication of illegal coca. It did not agree to an updated extradition
treaty with the U.S., although two traffickers have been extradited to
the U.S. since 1992. Beginning in early 1994, the Bolivian Congress
investigated Paz Zamora's personal ties to accused major trafficker
Isaac Chavarria, who subsequently died in prison while awaiting trial.
MIR deputy chief Oscar Eid was jailed in connection with similar ties in
1994; he was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison in
November 1996. Technically still under investigation, Paz Zamora became
an active presidential candidate in 1996.
The 1993 elections continued the tradition of open, honest elections and
peaceful democratic transitions of power. The MNR defeated the ADN/MIR
coalition by a 34% to 20% margin, and the MNR's Gonzalo "Goni" Sanchez
de Lozada was selected as president by an MNR/MBL/UCS coalition in the
Sanchez de Lozada pursued an aggressive economic and social reform
agenda. He relied heavily on successful entrepreneurs-turned-politicians
like himself and on fellow veterans of the Paz Estenssoro Administration
(during which Sanchez de Lozada was planning minister). The most
dramatic change undertaken by the Sanchez de Lozada Government was the
Capitalization program, under which investors acquired 50% ownership and
management control of public enterprises, such as the state oil
corporation, telecommunications system, electric utilities, and others.
The reforms and economic restructuring were strongly opposed by certain
segments of society, which instigated frequent social disturbances,
particularly in La Paz and the Chapare coca-growing region, from 1994
In the 1997 elections, Gen. Hugo Banzer, leader of the ADN, won 22% of
the vote, while the MNR candidate won 18%. Gen. Banzer formed a
coalition of the ADN, MIR, UCS, and CONDEPA parties which hold a
majority of seats in the Bolivian Congress. The Congress selected him as
president and he was inaugurated on August 6, 1997.
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calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:
and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To access CABB, dial the
modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set
terminal communications program to N-8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop
bit); and terminal emulation to VT100. The login is travel and the
password is info (Note: Lower case is required). The CABB also carries
international security information from the Overseas Security Advisory
Council and Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs
Trips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on
obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, can be purchased
from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648).
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal
Government Officials" listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country
(see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication).
Registering with the embassy may help you to replace lost identity
documents or help family members contact you in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings;
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an annual basis by
the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information on the
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of
official foreign policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact
the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O.
Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or
fax (202) 512-2250.
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information,
including Country Commercial Guides. It is available on the Internet
(www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-
1986 for more information.
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